The Twilight Sad Strips Down
Appropriately titled as Oran Mor Session, The Twilight Sad’s latest album was recorded at an intimate entertainment venue in Glasgow of the same name. Though some of these songs were originally introduced on their last album, Oran Mor Session is unique enough to breathe on its own. This album has a sound entirely different than any of The Twilight Sad’s previous releases; it is soft and slow, yet haunting—quiet in its sound, though loud in its lyrics.
Opener “Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave,” was originally the title track on The Twilight Sad’s most recent release. While it doesn’t feature many lyrics, the emotion in this stripped down version is felt clearly. “Can you stay tomorrow? / You won’t leave tomorrow / I don’t know where it all went wrong,” is repeated throughout, along with pleas of “Can we go back,” “I won’t keep you here” and “You always say you won’t.” In terms of raw emotion, this version is clearly the strongest of the two; with the music and beat toned down in the latest release, the listener can really engage with the sentiments that singer James Graham is articulating. Even with a lack of diversity in its words, the pain of this three minute track is evident. “Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave” sets the tone for the eight songs that follow.
The song titles alone suggest a similar theme—sadness, loss and pessimism. “It Was Never the Same;” “Pills I Swallow;” “I Could Give You All That You Don’t Want;” “Drown so I Can Watch”—all of which were previously recorded, but now possess a new and haunting life through these sessions. Without the distractingly fast-pace and excess of instruments found on previous recordings, the emotional core of these songs are that much more apparent. While the original versions are powerful in their own right, Oran Mor Session allows for a greater degree of nuance, allowing listeners to appreciate the songs in a new light.
The smooth-flowing sound of “The Airport” is another song worthy of close attention, with lyrics like “Same door we’ve chosen / but now I’m asked to leave / I could be your answer though,” and “So say goodnight / tell me that you’re almost mine / Tell me that it’s all in time.” The song conveys the struggles of beginning or maintaining a relationship when the other person is still unsure. Graham’s plain-spoken lyrics convey this experience that’s common among many, making this song particularly relatable.
Oran Mor Session is not an album to play at a party, or to uplift one’s bad day. It is, however, the perfect rainy day album, one to pair with a cup of tea and a mellow, relaxed mood. But to fully embrace the songs and the feelings expressed, this album requires sincere engagement; perhaps more so than with The Twilight Sad’s previous releases. However, once through its brisk 34 minutes, that extra attention will be well worth it.